Access chief warns elite universities over intake

The government's university access tsar has warned Oxford and Cambridge that they risk losing their status as world-class universities if they fail to widen their entry to include more students from state schools, writes Peter Wilby for the Guardian.

In the first interview since his controversial appointment last spring Les Ebdon, who started work as the new head of the Office for Fair Access (OFFA) last Monday, told the Guardian: "If the top universities are to retain their positions, they need to access the full range of our society. Otherwise, they are losing a major source of potential."

Both Oxford and Cambridge take more than 40% of their entrants from fee-charging schools, which educate only 7% to 8% of children.

The government's selection of Ebdon was opposed by Conservative Party backbenchers who thought him a hardline advocate of ‘social engineering’. As vice-chancellor of Bedfordshire University, Ebdon recruited nearly all his students from state schools to study subjects such as journalism, sport and social work.
Full report on the Guardian site